18th October 2016

Even though they created hat full of chances in a good first half performance against Cambridge last weekend, Macclesfield Blues could only manage to come home with a losing bonus point. To finally end this run of winless games, the Blues will need to make the most of home advantage when Rosslyn Park come to Priory Park this weekend. Both sides are level pegging in National 1 – both are desperately in need of a morale-boosting win: but which side will come away with the spoils? Here’s what Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, had to say.

The team created many scoring opportunities last weekend, but failed to convert those chances: would you say a lack of composure cost you the game?

“I think it probably did, along with a lack of patience. I suppose we were almost too anxious to score. Having had 3 clean lines breaks and probably 2 other opportunities to score in the first half, and we missed out on those because we tried to go with the speculative offload rather than the safer option. When that happens you start to get anxious. We also lacked urgency getting to the ball, and I think the pressure to get a win also played its part. In the second half when Cambridge took the lead we certainly did show a lack of composure.”

Can those faults be rectified by coaching?  

“Yes I think they can, given adequate practice. We, as coaching staff, have to create a practice environment which replicates the challenges and scenarios the players will find themselves facing. If you practice these drills regularly, dealing with them becomes second-nature, and that in turn means the players start to perform positively and with composure.”

You said a few weeks ago that every point gained in this league is valuable: do you think the losing bonus point at Cambridge was a point gained or 4 points lost?

“I thought you might ask that. I don’t think we played well enough to win the game, so in that sense you have to see the result as 1 point gained. However, what frustrated me most was that in most areas of the game we had either parity or control; yet we went through a period of about 25 minutes in the second half where we just couldn’t do anything right. I find that extremely disappointing because we all know that 25 minute period cost us the game. Some people will say we missed 7 points kicking at goal which could’ve won us the game; but I think that misses the point. We could and should’ve won the game before half time, but we just didn’t play well enough in the second half.”

The Blues and Rosslyn Park are level pegging in National 1: what are you expecting from them at the weekend?

“Both sides want to win and both sides need to win, so in that scenario one of two things will happen. You either cut loose, or you tense up. Rosslyn Park will do one of those two things, what that is exactly I’m not sure. Rosslyn Park haven’t had the greatest start to the season, and I’m sure they’ll want to put that right, but Priory Park in a tough place to come and play rugby. The only thing I can say for certain is that Rosslyn Park are not going to have an easy day of it.”

“At the end of the day Rosslyn Park are a good side. 2 years ago when we last played in National 1 they were pushing for the title with Ealing. They also went pretty well last year. They may not have had the greatest start this time, but they’re a quality side none the less, with a rich history and proud tradition of National 1 rugby. They got experience and they’ve got some players, so you’ve got to respect them as opponents.”

Is playing in front of a home crowd an advantage, or does it simply amplify the pressure when things aren’t going well?

“That’s a good question. There’s no doubt that the atmosphere at home games can boost your performance. You only have to look at Cambridge last weekend. The big crowd definitely contributed to the sense of urgency they played with. When they took the lead you could feel the energy in the stands and you could see it visibly lift their players. So, home advantage can, and should, play a big part: not necessarily in terms of a team’s performance, but certainly in terms of energy. Teams feed off that energy. We get a good crowd when we plat at Priory Park, and we know they’ll be our 16th man this weekend.”